Edith Rockefeller (1872–1932) had the misfortune of being born female, the fourth daughter of John D. Rockefeller Sr. and his wife Laura (called Cettie). The fifth child, John D. Jr., was privileged in this patriarchal household in ways that none of his three surviving older sisters would be.

Despite the massive wealth of their father, the Rockefeller children were brought up, mostly near Cleveland, Ohio, in a very pious, restrictive household with no luxuries. Every cent counted, every minute counted, and serving God and other people was extremely important. The children had few playmates besides relatives, in part because their father was so widely hated by members of the public. In addition, Edith was a rather rebellious child, tending to test boundaries more than her siblings. As a result of this sheltered, restrictive upbringing, Edith was ill-prepared to make wise social and financial choices when, as an adult, she finally...

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